tv Secretary of State Kerry on Syria CSPAN May 18, 2014 9:55pm-10:25pm EDT
kingdom. question and we must let you get set up for secretary kerry. >> thank you. foreign minister, it sounds like you are declaring bankruptcy of syria.olicy there is really nothing new that in this lk about meeting more or less. am i correct in saying that? wonder if you have people andhe rise of what are you doing in practical terms? >> we have discussed the need to increase further coordination some has of course begun time ago on tracking and prevent being the flow of fortune syria, all the ministers have raised that. extremism, the threat of the spread terror is a the wider region major reason for the rest of the world to do everything it can to
to resolve the conflict in syria. t would not be right to say there is nothing new in the meeting today because as i set ut in the communique' we have decided to increase our support in various ways for the moderate supreme military counc council, to press ahead with the sort of the security council, to increase our oordination on countering extremism and to complete the work on the chemical weapons, to delivering humanitarian across borders and so clear statement of intent by these nations to closely together and as i say to step up our support coalition and l i'm sorry, i did not answer the is the about the what point of the security council of someng forward things that
countries may veto. that we e argument sometimes get there in the end. e face long months of opposition to any resolution on the itarian methods but in end we succeeded in passing esolution 2139 on humanitarian access. these arguments gain ground in and nternational community we want the assad regime to know nations very powerful in the world, very powerful forces in the world that are done ined to see justice one day. and if we are frustrated now, if prevented now from -- if aware prevented referring it to criminal courtal it is something we will return to and people of syria may wish to return to in the future. so, yes, styles these things -- sometimes these things take a a clear but it is statement of where we intend to end up and that is something into account.ake
thank you very much. i don't want to keep you waiting too longer secretary kerry. as i know you want to refigure the room. make space for him. thank you very much indeed. >> good afternoon, everybody. et me thank foreign secretary hosting his terrific convening us to talk about a challenging issues and we are facing together i think after today with even direction.se of we gathered here, i think it is
frankly more united than we have been in some time. and we all of us unanimously changing theted to dynamics on the ground in syria. last met the opposition has itself taken some steps forward to expand their leadership, to xpand their reach into syria, to become more effective. know, we justs you host hosted the president and his in washington for a number of days in a series of meetings including the meetings the state department, white house and president. know that s we all the grave humanitarian crisis is greg more dire -- growing more dire by the day notwithstanding the best efforts of people to date. the bloodshed and suffering the
have not sopped. we y in one unified voice made it clear that we remain committed to taking .teps most importantly, we start with rejecting any notion whatsoever that the elections that the assad regime has called have any legitimacy whatsoever. there is no way that this illegitimate effort for this possible set of circumstances for an election can somehow give legitimacy where there is none. together, we are unified in saying that aside -- assad's staged elections are a farce, an raud on democracy,
the syrian people, and the world. the fact is that the cynical political theater that he is engaged in will not change one thing the day after it happens. his status in the world, his position with respect to future leadership in syria, and the willtial of any resolution be exactly where they were the day before the election. perhaps even slightly worse because of the fraud in this effort. ask yourself, how do you have a legitimate election when half of the people in your country are displaced and not able to move? how do you have a legitimate election when another server -- several million people are in refugee camps, unable to move? people, of thousands of literally, almost one million,
perhaps, are scattered in various countries in the region, .eeking safety from assad it is just impossible to believe that, under those circumstances, or people are hunkered down in their homes, intimidated, afraid to be able to come out, afraid one voteforced to do or another, it is no climate, no framework of legitimacy. today that we have to redouble our efforts in supporting the moderate opposition in order to bring about a peaceful resolution that the people of syria want. that requires the full support of the international community. that was really the focus of our discussions today. wouldure your question be, so what is different today? well, look at the length of the communiqué.
it is short and it is purposely for -- it is purposely short. to the renewed efforts and the most important sentence is the last sentence, which points out that our teams have come together in very short order now to lay out a very specific set of sets -- set of steps that we will take together in order to have a greater impact here. there was not anybody who did not come together today with the realization that there have been hurdles over the course of the last year. from the time when foreign i announcedrov and the possibility at the geneva conference last year, about a month earlier than now, things change on the ground. hezbollah has joined the fight. irgc entered the fight on the ground. and more terrorists are attracted to fight against assad
readily, thereby creating a framework where some of the opposition was fighting for terrorists, not assad. that is a clear and simple reality of what has taken place over the course of the year. that has changed. now are is a greater level of coordination, a greater level of unity, a greater level of understanding of purpose. over the next days, as those teams meet, there will be a serious definition of steps to be taken in order to have a greater impact three the united states is committed to doing our part. each country today sat there and discussed what they felt they could do to grow the effort. and that is what is different. just last week, we announced that the syrian opposition coalition representative offices are now foreign missions. we are now working to provide new, nonlethal assistance and to
speed up the delivery of the assistance to the free syrian army. the treasury department has imposed new sanctions and restrictions against members of the regime and we will continue to strengthen our ties with the syrian opposition. as i think you have seen firsthand in a visit to washington this past week. on behalf of the united states, i want to extend our deep concern for the two british journalists that were shot and beaten while trying to share with the world the real story of what has -- what is happening in syria. this is not the first time that courageous reporters have been part of the heartbreaking story of syria. far too many journalists and innocent civilians have been hurt, killed, or held hostage in syria. just two days ago in washington, we met with one of the families,
many of the families, actually, of those being held in syria. we are keeping up very focused efforts to try to secure their release. we reiterate our respect and admiration for the reporters who put their lives and their liberties on the line to tell stories to the world that otherwise, people would never learn. say another quick word about two other issues we touched on today, in the early part of our meeting this morning. that is ukraine and libya. we had a very good discussion this morning with the british, french, german, italian foreign minister's, our counterparts, on ukraine. we welcome the successful national dialogue roundtable in kiev that took place yesterday and the very good conversation
there on decentralization, constitutional reform and the protection of minority rights. separatists,the that the russians, that others who are disgruntled by what has taken place, will take note of a legitimate effort to try to reach out, bring people to the table, and find clinical compromise. we are absolutely committed to the notion that there must be a protection of these rights and we support the government in kiev's efforts to reach out with forous, concrete plans increased autonomy and decentralization. i would note that the level of decentralization and autonomy that the prime minister has articulated far exceeds any level of autonomy or decentralization that exists anywhere in russia. and i think it is important for everybody to note that. ofbelieve that the process
the roundtables, coupled with an election, provides the people with ukraine an opportunity to be able to heal the divide. that will now be encouraged through a second meeting of a roundtable that would take place in eastern ukraine in a few days. this morning, we also underscored the vital importance of a free and fair presidential election across ukraine on may 25. including, importantly, the eastern provinces. we are working with the toainians and the osce protect the rights of all ukrainian citizens and make their voices heard through the ballot box in a legitimate election. we call on the separatists and russians to respect this election process, to help to make it happen, even, to encourage ukrainians to be able to find their future. that is the best way to de-escalate the situation.
we believe that this effort to legitimize an election and moved to have a broad-based election according to the constitution, the constitutional process of ukraine, is in stark contrast to the agenda of the pro-russian separatists and their supporters , who are literally sowing may hem. far from defending the rights of the people of the east, they are seeking to speak for everybody through the barrel of a gun and through their own narrow sense of what they want for an outcome. that ifd this morning russia or its proxies disrupt the election, the united states and those countries represented here today in the european union will impose sectoral economic sanctions as a result. our message is really quite simple. let ukraine vote.
let the ukrainian people choose their future. open,em do so in a fair, free, accessible election. finally, the united states and our quintet of partners reiterated today our shared commitment to the stability and security for the libyan people and the region. we agreed that we need to do more. and we understood that there is a challenging moment in libya. we need to try to accelerate the effort to bring about stability and security and governance that is necessary to provide the time and space for libyan authorities to be able to confront the threat from extremism and the challenges that their country faces in just providing governance to their people. in that light and in support of the libyan government, you are working collectively through a number of different envoys.
the arab league has an ongoing. -- envoy. great britain has an envoy. we have an enoy. they have been working in concert and we have cast them as one entity. we are going to do all we can to help the libyans in the next be able to gain control of their revenues and begin to afford the kind of coalition that can actually begin to build the offices of governance that are necessary. it is a small company. 6.5 million people. smaller than the state that i represented in the senate and -- in the senate for almost 29 years. i know something about what you can provide when you want to. libya is a country rich in resources. we hope that, in the days ahead, we are going to be able to tap into that and find a way to help the libyan people to move
forward and have the kind of stability and peaceful governance that they aspire to. with that, i thank you and i would be happy to take a couple of questions quickly. >> on syria, i think you correctly what your finger on what the question is, what is different today? can you tell us whether the united states is prepared to do what britain has done, which is to change the way aid is sent to syria and start sending it meansh ngo's or other instead of through the united nations? also, on the expanded aid that you talked about to both the ofitary and political side the opposition, president job a -- jarba has called for surface to air missiles to stop the
government air attacks against civilians, including the barrel bombs that you have personally denounced. are you prepared to take this step or allow your allies to take this step? if not, why not? , france is seeing credible evidence of at least 14 credible attacks by the syrian government since october. secretary hagel said that the united states has seen no such evidence. is this because you have not seen what the french have seen? or that you have seen it and did not find conclusive? thank you. >> well, let me take them 1-2-3. open to the idea of providing aid through any means that we'll get to the people who need it. will get to the people
who need it. while the decision has not been categorically made, i will repeat. we are open to anything that will get aid to the people. we are frustrated with the current process. it is not getting to people. it is going through one entry and going toyway assad regime. that is unacceptable. we need to get in more directly and we are going to work to do that. in addition to that, we are , in the united nations security council, challenge the appropriate level of follow-through that is necessary what wase to fulfill passed in the resolution previously, a few months ago, in order to guarantee delivery of aid. it is not being fulfilled. it has to be fulfilled. we are going to join with other
countries in an effort to try to guarantee accountability through the u.n. and making that happen. we are determined that people will be able to get aid. the people who left their homes, for instance, did so because they were literally under siege. they were being starved to death. civilians and others. that is against the rules of war. not to mention anybody's fundamental values and decency, but obviously not assad's. we intend to press this issue in every way possible. weapons, i amf not going to discuss what specific weapons, what country may or may not be providing or not providing -- as you know, we are providing nonlethal aid. but i will say, out of today's meeting, every facet of what can be done is going to be ramped up. every facet.
effort,ludes political it includes the aid to the economicn, it includes efforts, sanctions. today, we announced additional sanctions. they will be ramped up to make it clear that, despite the fact that assad may think that, today, he is doing better and his process is going to come to a close with him sitting pretty, the answer is no. it is not going to suddenly -- we are not going away. the opposition is not going away. we are determined to reach a political settlement that protects all of the people of syria. ,nd i want to make it clear aloite, other minorities, all can be protected here. assad is just protecting himself. the fact is, in doing so, he is making partnership with terrorist elements, attracting
terrorists, engaging in terrorist activities against his own people, and i do not think that anybody today felt deterred notion thatthe there might be a better route, another route, other than a political settlement, which can only be brought about if he is prepared to negotiate. brahimi'sdy looks at resignation and makes a judgment about it, it it is not -- he performed valiantly against great odds. if the parties are not prepared to perform according to the standards that they have excepted to negotiate on, there is nothing that a negotiator or intermediary can do. we remain committed to try to find that solution. i am not going to discuss specific weapons systems or otherwise, except to say that
every possible avenue that is available is going to be pursued by one country or another. on the third issue, the issue of suspect -- i have not talked to secretary hagel about what goes through his mind or what he was referring to with respect to that. chlorine is not listed on the list of prohibited items by itself, freestanding, under the chemical weapons convention. waywhen used and mixed in a that is used as a chemical , iton in the context of war is against the chemical weapons treaty. -- i dove seen evidence not know how verified -- it is not verified yet. it has not been confirmed.
but i have seen the raw data that suggests that there may have been, as francis suggested, a number of instances in which chlorine has been used in the context of war. if it has and it could be proven, that would be against the agreements of the chemical weapons treaty and against the weapons convention that syria has signed up to. >> secretary kerry, to follow up on your last point, if it is proven that chlorine was used as a chemical in more, -- in war, which is prohibited, what will the syrian government say? what steps can you take? active military aid, i know you will not go into detail about the system, but are you more confident now in the free syrian
army? and after the meeting you had with this syrian opposition, into the use of weaponry? >> i think the free syrian army has clearly improved. it has clearly gained in its capacity. it has gained in its command and control. it is also now being supported way then coordinated it was over the last year. one country or another may have been supporting one group or another. now that is much more consequent -- concentrated. we think that they are making progress. trained army in the context of nationstates? no, not yet. , and,ey are improving
under very difficult circumstances, holding their own and making gains in certain parts of the country. we are committed to continue to be helpful to them. in manym rader capacity different respects. everybody there today shared in that commitment. c.w. andect to the what the consequences are, it has been made clear by president obama and others that use would result in consequences. we are not going to pin ourselves down to a precise time, date, manner of action. but there are big consequences if it were to be proven, including things that are way beyond our control. the international criminal court and others are free to hold him accountable. as you know, we have a resolution that will be in front
of the united nations with respect to culpability for crimes against humanity, atrocities, and the course of this of conflict. oerciveness of conflict. one way or another, there will be accountability. >> mr. secretary, you just told us that you and the four eu foreign ministers agreed that sectoral sanctions would be imposed on russia if russia or its proxies disrupt the may 25 elections. foreign minister hage -- hague referred to russia's specific interference pre-i want to know if russia has denied supplying weapons for personnel and coordination with the separatists. will they be held responsible for actions of the separatists even if it cannot be proven, the link to russia itself?
what is the criteria that you and the eu are going to use? we understand that the approach for sanctions is going to be a scalpel and not a hammer. does that mean it will not be a ban on entire sectors of commerce and does that mean it dealse a ban on future with exception of existing contracts? >> i am not going to get into announcing today what the precise sanctions are, except to say to you that we have completed our work. we know what they are. we are ready. stateeek, we had department and treasury personnel here in europe, working with our european allies in order to define precisely what the road ahead should be. indeed, our hope -- i am not going to get into characterizations, scalpel or sledgehammer or whatever, except to say to you that they are effective. if they have to go into effect,
they will have an impact. purpose of it is to have a greater impact on the target than the people imposing it. so we will be thoughtful and we are being thoughtful. deliberate inery trying to make determinations about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. our hope is not to do this. our hope is not that we have to go to the next stage. i say to the russians and everybody, our hope is to de-escalate. we appreciate that president putin made a statement about the wledging that ackno they would take place. probably a good thing was his language. certain isd to make that people are not trying to have everything both ways.